When we’re talking about a fashion house history, it’s difficult to only talk about clothes. Sometimes, it’s more about the people who lead their way and defined its destiny. Givenchy‘s history was written by the charismatic designers who took its helm and changed forever the history of fashion. Take a seat and enjoy the true story about the house of Givenchy!
The Fifties: Hubert and Audrey Hepburn
Givenchy’s history is fits of all the story of a man, Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy. He was just 17 years old when, in 1944, left his hometown Beauvais for Paris, to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. His talent wasn’t unnoticed: he worked for the great couturiers of that time, from Robert Piguet to Lucien Lelong and even a not so famous yet Christian Dior. He became also Elsa Schiaparelli‘s assistant from 1947 to 1951.
After working with these great masters, he decided in 1952 to open his first in Plaine Monceau in Paris. His first haute couture collection, better known as Les Separates, made a mark: his elegant blouses and light skirts blending architectural lines and simplicity, were a novel concept for the time in light of the more constricted looks of the day. That’s why he was often compared to Christian Dior’s New Look for his more contemporary approach.
One year later, he met a woman that would change his life. Audrey Hepburn arrived in his atelier, asking him to create for her the wardrobe for her upcoming movie Sabrina. Givenchy was working on his next collection, and he couldn’t stop the production for her. Hepburn asked him to try on some of the clothing he already made. She said: “It’s exactly what I need!”. Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy became true friends and started a long collaboration. The designer created all the looks she wore in her movies, for example, Breakfast at Tiffany’s famous little black dress. In 1957, Givenchy asked her to use one of her picture for his new fragrance, L’Interdit, and she became the first actress to star in a beauty advertising campaign.
In 1956, while he was in New York, he met his idol Cristobal Balenciaga, with whom he shared a passion for contemporary elegance. Givenchy, who in 1959 moved his atelier in Avenue George V in front of the one of his master, became his spiritual heir: in fact, Hubert de Givenchy was the first to promote the idea to create a Balenciaga Museum in his hometown Getaria.
From the Sixties to the Eighties: Givenchy became a pret à porter brand
After becoming a legend in the haute couture world, Givenchy was the first French designer to experiment pret à porter and to create a truly global company. In the Sixties, he signed his first licensee agreements for kidswear, umbrellas, shoes, ties, and perfumes. In 1969 he made his first ready to wear collection, while in 1973 he launched his first menswear label Gentleman Givenchy.
His success didn’t remain unnoticed. In 1988, Givenchy decided to sell his maison to Bernard Arnault and his newly created luxury group Lvmh. Givenchy kept his creative role until 1995 when he retired. Hubert de Givenchy died on March 10th 2018 at 91 years old.
The Nineties and the 2000s: three brits at the helm of Givenchy
After the founder’s farewell, the house of Givenchy experienced 10 tumultuous years. Lvmh named John Galliano as the brand’s creative director. He was a young English designer, became famous for his graduation collection Les Incroyables. After only one year, he promoted to the same role at Christian Dior, and he succeeded in 1997 by another brit talent, Alexander McQueen, who mixed his sartorial Savile Row’s background to the couture imagery of the maison, completely upsetting it with his irreverent style. McQueen’s reign lasted 5 years, full of ups and downs until the designer sold his eponymous label to Lvmh’s big rival, the Gucci Group (now Kering).
Welsh designer Julien MacDonald took the baton from McQueen, leading the fashion house until 2005. It was a hard 4-year tenure: MacDonald wasn’t supported by the company and the press, that thought he wasn’t skilled enough to work for a couture maison, and the brand was near bankruptcy. In 2005, Lvmh decided to bet everything on an Italian designer, Riccardo Tisci.
The 200s: Riccardo Tisci’s age
Riccardo Tisci brought back the house of Givenchy to its former glory. His dark and romantic imagery seemed to fit perfectly, engaging new young customers. Collection after collection, Tisci created a contemporary but posh universe, in which sportswear details are melted with modern couture, still respectful of the heritage codes.
Especially from 2010, Givenchy became a cult brand among fashionistas, thanks to iconic pieces like printed sweatshirts and Antigona and Pandora bags. And as Hubert de Givenchy found a muse in Audrey Hepburn, Tisci chose his best friend, Italian top model Mariacarla Boscono, as the face of its aesthetic. Many celebrities were in love with Tisci’s style, like Beyoncé, Madonna, Kim Kardashian and Julia Roberts. After 12 years, Riccardo Tisci left Givenchy in 2017 for Burberry.
Givenchy in 2018
Clare Waight Keller is the first woman to take the lead at Givenchy’s. Unlike Tisci, that through the years disconnected from the brand’s past to create a truly personal imagery, Waight-Keller decided to go back to the roots, updating Monsieur de Givenchy original sketches. If for buyers and press it’s still too early to judge her work, the designer already gained to spotlight with an international event like the Royal Wedding: Meghan Markle, in fact, chose to wear a Givenchy dress for her marriage to Prince Harry.
Want to be connected to Givenchy universe? You only need to follow @givenchyofficial, the official Instagram account of the brand! If you’re a Givenchy maniac, you can’t miss @givenchyinternational, the community of all the Givenchy obsessed in the world!
If you’re still hungry for Givenchy fashion, take a look at our gallery below, with some of the most iconic looks of the maison, and don’t forget to go to The Blonde Salad Instagram account, to discover all the new Stories about this amazing brand!